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Lame Duck

A lame duck is a political official who is serving until the end of his or her term but has not, for whatever reason, been reelected. For example, if a new president of the United States is elected in November, the current president (a “lame duck”) will continue to serve in the office until the inauguration of the new president in January. In the U.S. Congress, the time period between an election and the official swearing in of new congresspersons is called the “lame duck session.” A lame duck politician is considered to lack power and be ineffectual. But such a politician also may act as though he or she is no longer accountable to constituents. In Britain, the term is used to refer to a person who cannot pay his or her debts.